What’s the difference between 31 and 32 weeks?

In my last post I asked, “What’s the difference between 31 and 32 weeks?”

Over the next several weeks (54 days to be exact) I would certainly learn.

When you are talking about Gestational age or Fetal age the difference is…..

A whole lot more than “just 7 days”.

In several cases, it can even mean life or death.

The morning after the boys were delivered, Einstein and I went back to the hospital to check on Thing One, and to hopefully meet our grandsons.    Thing One had given us the pictures above when we briefly visited the night before.  The only other information we had was that Joey was delivered first at 4 lbs 7 oz (on the left in the picture above) and, Danny (on the right) followed at 3lbs 15 oz. They both looked so “normal”. Tiny as hell, but they “appeared” fully developed.

I couldn’t wait to see and hold and kiss and cuddle them.  After visiting with Thing One and receiving our badges, which generically explained the rules of the NICU and had to be worn at all times…..

Z led us to this  whole new “planet” called the NICU.

We had to go through a series of locked doors and wait to be “buzzed” through each one after our identities were verified.  Upon entering the NICU, we had to scrub ourselves up to our elbows in the surgical sink, and place all belongings in a locker.  Cell phones had to be placed in plastic bags.  After completing our scrubbing, we were led to a “pod”

NICU.jpg

This is the first time I saw my grandsons and I was terrified all over again.

Why did they have so many monitors, cables, and alarms?  Why couldn’t we hold them?  Why did Danny have to keep a rag over his eyes?  Why did they have to be on oxygen and need feeding tubes?  So many questions and not a lot of answers.

I think I have said several times before that I try to respect other people’s privacy as much as possible, so I am not going to go into specifics.  Instead, I will tell you a bit about the milestones that all babies much reach before they are discharged from the NICU.

  1. Most importantly, all babies need to be able to breathe on their own.
  2. They must be able to regulate their own body temperature.
  3. They need to be able to eat on their own and gain weight.

It sounds simple, but it is not.  At 31 weeks, babies lungs are not fully developed.  Because most can’t breath on their own, they certainly can not eat on their own (the they have to be able to breathe and suck at the same time).  If they can’t do that effectively, they can not gain weight to regulate their own body temperatures. etc etc etc.

Random fact here…. One ounce of baby formula contains 20 calories.  If it takes a baby longer than 10 minutes to consume those calories they are probably burning more than they are gaining.

If you are interested in reading more about the weekly development of preemies, this website gives a brief overview.

During their days in the NICU, I spent as much time as I could with them, while at the same time making sure that they were not overstimulated because most of their brain development happens while they are sleeping. (something else I had no idea about)

I mentioned earlier that the NICU was a whole new planet.  The boys had their own doctoral staff of consisting of Neonatologists, cardiologists, pulmonologists, gastroenterologists, dieticians, etc.

When they needed to see a specialist, or have tests done, things were performed very quickly, and after they moved to the new hospital the visits or tests were done right in their room.

danny ekgjoey hearingxrays (4)

While I am very grateful for the care my grandsons received in the hospital, I hope NEVER to have to visit a NICU again.

Have you ever heard the expression “when you hear hoofbeats think Horses, not Zebras?”  The times that I have heard it are in medical situations when your symptoms are compatible with a variety of ailments.  For example, if there is blood on your finger, it may be a caused by a papercut, not something requiring surgery.

While in the NICU, the thinking is reversed.  They immediately begin telling you about the worst case scenario.  I am honestly not surprised that more parents of preemies are not diagnosed with a degree of PTSD.

If you are a parent that has to go through this experience I encourage you to reach out for someone to talk to.  If possible, talk to other parents of preemies as they may be the only ones who understand the fears you are experiencing.

Thank you for reading along today, writing about it has helped me find some closure to that time.

I will have another story Friday about whether or not I punched the nurse at one of the boys doctor visits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terrifying AND Hysterical?

In November, I pulled a “disappearing act”.  One of my last posts was  Everything is ok, but. It was in regards to my Oldest daughter, Thing ONE.  At that time she was only 27 weeks pregnant. During the course of my daughter’s pregnancy, she developed Preeclampsia, and was put on bed rest.

On December 11, I made a brief post apologizing for my absence and explained (briefly) where I had been. BUT I wasn’t “back” yet.  On January 5th, my grandsons were moved to a new hospital and I made a brief update about that in 30 ambulances and over 100 patients.   Most of the month of January was spent in the NICU with the boys, and February I felt like I was living in my car, which is an improvement from living in the hospital believe it or not.  On March 3rd, I popped in again to post Not all who wander are lost.  I attempted to  say that MAYBE my universe was righting itself again, and that I would like to share some stories with you.

I would like to do that now if you will join me.

Beginning with when I “disappeared”.  (this is the terrifying part)

During the month of November, Thing 1 was sent to the hospital on several occasions because the doctors were having difficulty controlling her blood pressure. During her 30th week of pregnancy, she was admitted. I spent several nights at the hospital with her helplessly watching as the doctors tried to control her blood pressure only to watch it spike again within a few hours.  I heard words like STROKE LEVEL, the only cure is to deliver,…we need to wait til 32 weeks at least.

WHY?!?!?!?!?!  I asked, on more than one occasion.

What’s the difference between 31 and 32 weeks?

“It’s better for the babies” someone would say……..

but what about MY BABY?!?!?!?  I need HER to be ok!!!!

I’m going to pause here and tell a different story for a moment.

The story of Thing One’s birth.  ( a short version)  When I was in labor with THING ONE, I started hemorrhaging and remember yelling at the doctors that they needed to save my baby regardless of what that meant for me.  My parents were in the room with me, and my mom yelled, “NO SAVE MY BABY.”  They took me for an emergency c section and thankfully were able to save us both.  ok back to my original story….

OMG, now I have really become my mother!  How could I tell my daughter that at that moment nothing in the world mattered but saving HER life.  Of course I wanted her kids to be ok, but my first thought was that I needed HER to be ok.

After a few days of being at the local hospital, Thing 1 was  rushed via ambulance to RMH, a hospital with a level 3 NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), where the twins were born via Emergency C-section at 31 weeks.

Thankfully both her and the boys survived!

I have purposefully left out several details about the week Thing One was in the hospital before the boys were born because, while I have no issue writing about MY LIFE, I don’t feel that it is my right to share too much about others. Also, it was one of the most terrifying times of my life that I DO NOT want to relive.

Ok now for the hysterical, at least funny now that it’s over,  part

This is the story I will tell my Grandsons when they ask about their births.

OK, Please picture this….

Thing One is in surgery, her husband Z was with her.

Einstein is trying to hold me upright while I am freakishly pacing the floor (still in the damn boot).

My phone rings……  It’s Thing Two

As I answer the phone I think she might be crying, but I can’t tell for sure over the piercing alarm coming from the phone along with the sound of dogs barking uncontrollably.

Grace : Thing Two are you ok!?!?!?? Where are you? What’s going on?

Thing 2: ARGH &$#*%&@*($#%&W*($%&*$%

(barking and alarm continue)

Grace:  WHAT DID YOU SAY?!?!?  I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!!

Thing 2:  MOM I NEED THE DAMN ALARM CODE TO THING ONE’S HOUSE!!!

Grace: Um I don’t know it.  Why are you there?  Dammit make the dogs stop barking!

Thing 2:  I can’t! They don’t like the alarm! Mom I need the code!!!!!!! the police are going to come!!!!

Grace:  The police?!?! Are you ok?!?!?!?  What’s going on?!?!?!?

Thing 2:   Mom I need the code to shut off thing one’s alarm.  I didn’t realize they changed the code and I was picking up clothes for her and z, now the dogs are going crazy, I can’t shut off the alarm and the police are gonna come and I’m gonna get shot.

Grace:  What?  You got shot?

Thing 2:  (now definitely crying) Mom please just help me figure out the code!!!!

(At that exact moment, Z appeared in the hallway in front of us.)

Grace to Z:  I need your alarm code, thing 2 set off your alarm…… OMG wait a minute WHY ARE YOU here?!?!?

Z: Thing One and the boys are ok, they are taking her to recovery and I went with the boys to the NICU, the code is ****.

(Apparently we were standing right outside the recovery room door and I could see them wheeling Thing 1 in the room.)

To thing 2 ……I yelled….. “the code is ****, if the police come just tell them to call the hospital to verify or call me.  I gotta go!”  and to the nurses that had gathered around I yelled, screamed, cried…”please just let me see her for ONE second.”

THEY DID!!!!

cheese

I don’t know if it was from the drugs or seeing her children for the first time but this is what I saw when I walked in the room….

(This picture was taken at another time, but you get the point right?  Ear to ear smile without a care in the world….)

That’s all I needed.

The nurses told us it would be a few hours before we could visit, and Einstein directed me to the waiting room.

We sat there for a few moments trying to absorb all that had just happened when my phone rang again.

It was the police officers’ that had responded to the alarm.  They wanted to let me know that they had arrived at Thing 1’s. They believed the story that thing 2 told them ( no one could make this shit up), the code had been verified, and thing 2 would be coming up to the hospital once she calmed down.

Here is thing 2 recapping the events of the night

abby alarm story

While we waited to see our daughter, Einstein and I made our phone calls to our parents and Thing One’s Best Friend.   Z sent us a picture of each of the boys in the NICU, which I will share later this week.

Although the boys were born at 5:24 and 5:27 pm, and I got to see thing ones face and hug her for about a minute, we didn’t get to visit with her until almost midnight that night.  In fact, I think we only stayed long enough for another hug and a few congrats to the new parents.

Meeting the boys would have to wait til the next day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 Ambulances and over 100 patients

You might be thinking OMG what happened…..

I have the answer…

and surprisingly…… it’s not a bad one…..

Over a  year ago, plans were set in motion for Rockford Memorial Hospital’s Women’s and Children’s Unit, including their NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), to be moved to a new “prime real estate” location on the other side of the city.

shrug/ ok?

It didn’t concern me in the least, That is until my two grandson’s became patients of the NICU, included in the move.

Ok time for me to pay attention!!!!!

I don’t know if you have ever bought a brand new computer, car etc… I have, and I swore never to do it again.  (let someone else deal with the bugs, kinks, problems)

I feel the same about a new hospital.

Nope not for me…

Get yourself all moved and set up.  Let 100 other people go first…..

Do you get my point?

Unfortunately, this time, I didn’t have a choice.

I have been listening to “the buzz” about MOVING DAY every day for the last month while visiting my grandson’s in the NICU.  I have heard stories about how they will be renting 30 ambulances.  There will be 140 nurses on staff.  One baby with it’s team of nurses will be leaving the old hospital via ambulance every 15 mins beginning at 5 am.  100 + patients will be settled in the new hospital by 3 pm.

Are you doubtful?

So was I.

I was doubtful enough that I parked my ass between my grandsons early Saturday morning to “keep an eye” on things.  Almost 30 babies would be moved before them, but I was going to be there watching and waiting….just in case.

After watching what appeared to be a “fine oiled machine” for several hours, I finally felt comfortable that the hospital just might be able to pull their plan off, so I left…..

They did it.  All babies had been relocated to their new “homes” by the time we got to the new hospital at 2.  I won’t claim that this is a “state of the art” facility,  but who am I to judge?  I do however like that now the boys have their own room, and it’s even got a view.

If you would like to read the full story from the paper, it’s here.

I am going to try to share what I have learned about NICU’s and preemies later this week, but for now, let me give you the update that both boys are over 6 lbs, and begun taking a portion of their feedings from a bottle 🙂